Thursday, 30 August 2012

Grabbers (2012)

Lisa Nolan is a workaholic police officer from the big city who takes a small assignment on a small rural island in Ireland while the chief is on vacation.  Ciaran O'Shea is an alcoholic policeman who starts his days hungover, sometimes in the cells, who works his way towards ending his days intoxicated.  However, when bloodsucking aliens invade the island and start munching on the townsfolk, they are forced to put their differences aside and discover how to beat the creatures.  With the help of the island scientist and the island drunk, they discover that the only way to beat the aliens is to get drunk.  Now all they have to do is convince the islanders to go and get drunk at a free bar the night of a storm.  Surely this isn't a hard task for the Irish stereotype?  Well, it isn't.  What makes this so good though is that it's effectively the Irish taking the mickey out of themselves.  This is hilarious and is a future cult classic in the making.  If you like Tremors, Attack the Block and Shaun of the Dead then you'll love the humor in this gem.  It isn't scary, but it is damn well funny.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Super (2010)

The past few years have seen superhero movies being spewed out more routinely than children for Kerry Katona, and even though most of them are incredible action-packed thrill rides, they don't really offer much in the way of originality. When Matthew Vaughn's Kick Ass came along it was a breath of fresh air as it offered a new kind of superhero; the kind of superhero that everyone has daydreamed of becoming.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had fantasies of becoming a masked vigilante from time to time.  James Gunn's Super has been compared to Kick Ass and even accused of ripping it off, however, this was sitting in James Gunn's drawer for years (well before Kick Ass was even a graphic novel).  It's unfair to compare both films though because they're more different than similar; the similarities are the regular guy gone vigilante lead characters and dark humor, but other than that...  Super isn't as mainstream appealing as Kick Ass and it isn't made for a wide audience.  It's made for those of us who enjoy movies with a completely warped sense of humor.  Super is most definitely, warped.

Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is a fry chef in a fast food restaurant living a miserable life.  However, things get even more miserable when his drug addict wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for her drug dealer Jacques (Kevin Bacon).  One night Frank has an anime tentacle inspired epiphany from God and decides to become a masked vigilante known as The Crimson Bolt.  His mission is to punish those who do wrong, whether it be selling drugs or raping or even queue skipping.  Ellen Page's character Libby also adopts a role as his sidekick Boltie, and helps him beat up criminals with vicious glee.

Super is a fun, demented movie that doesn't try to be anything other than warped.  This is the type of humor that appeals more to a minority of film fans.  Just when you start slipping into a comfort zone something happens and shifts gear in the blink of an eye.  Almost effortlessly, it shifts between goofy, hilarious and bizarre to graphically violent, dark and disturbing to sentimental and sweet and so on.  At its heart its a comedy, but it's only for the darkest humor.

Super is the product of a love for comic books but it also comes across as somewhat satirical to recent comic book movies.  Since Nolan's Batman, many have went for the gritty approach to make superheroes seem more realistic and true to life.  Well, there's none more true to life than Frank, an inept masked vigilante who beats criminals with a wrench.  The budget restraints also give this movie a gritty look, so perhaps it wasn't intentionally satirical but I can see why people would make that observation.  According to Gunn, who started writing it 9 years prior to it's release, it was a reaction to comic books and not movies.  When this script was in its early stages, comic book movies weren't as huge as they are now.  I think it just goes to show that James Gunn is a talented writer with a great imagination and not some satirist of modern pop culture.

Super is what it is - not for everyone.  It's goofy, dark, violent, sweet, hilarious, bizarre and made for a specific audience.  It comes across as the type of movie Gunn made for himself more than anything.  If you like dark comedy, superhero movies and violence then check it out.  If you hate superhero movies you might like this one because it's unlike any other.  It's demented fun and I for one adore it with all of my black little heart.

Slither (2006)

I remember when Slither was first released.  I was 16 years old and really steadily into my genre film development, especially horror comedy.  This was the time of Eli Roth and Rob Zombie, so R Rated had returned to the mainstream and it was awesome.  When I saw the trailer for Slither was foaming at the mouth with excitement.  It was a special time for me; I was starting to become a film geek, I was discovering beer and I'd even managed to lose my virginity while listening to a Fall Out Boy cd.  Yep, it was a great time, but all the awkward sex and beer didn't compare to Slither (and it still doesn't).  It was hit or miss getting into theatres to see it because I was too young so I didn't risk it.  So I done the next best thing - bought it illegally on video tape.  I loved it instantly and watched it at least 20 times on a piss poor picture.  Thankfully, when the DVD came out I went to HMV and got sold it no problem.  Anyway, Slither was a huge love of my life then and it is still a film I enjoy immensely to this day.  It's no longer the masterpiece I used to think it was when I was 16, but it's still a wonderful entertaining movie that never gets old.  Great setting, disgusting monsters and slugs and a wonderful small town atmosphere, Slither has the ingredients that concoct the meal that feed my fanboy hunger.

Slither is an homage to the horror of the 80's, the sci-fi horror of the 50's, Troma films and B movies in general.  The plot is quite similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Night of the Creeps.  Many Creeps fans even bitched about this ''rip-off.''  I'm a Creeps man myself, but this isn't an all out rip-off. Very similar?  Oh yes indeed-y, but it makes it's own disgusting fun.  James Gunn is a horror fan who made a movie for horror fans and paid homage to all the movies that made him a horror fan in the first place.  Michael Rooker plays a squid, Elizabeth Banks is at her all time hottest and Nathan Fillion stars in a lead role.  What's not to love?  There's slugs, Republican hating zombies and buckets of goo.  Sold yet?

According to Gunn, the purpose of Slither was to write a fun, in-your-face gory horror film reminiscent of the 80's classics like Re-Animator, The Fly, Return of the Living Dead, Basketcase and Evil Dead 2.  Gunn stated that he hoped it would pave the way for more horror films to breakthrough into the marketplace.  Slither wasn't exactly a huge financial box office smash though, but I feel it did its part.  Even a small contribution is a contribution, and Gunn would certainly go on to do his part for horror breaking back into the marketplace when he wrote the screenplay for the financially successful Dawn of the Dead remake.  Slither is indeed however his finest achievement (some of you might argue his work with Troma is better but for me Slither wipes the floor with all Troma.  However, his superhero movie Super is an equally great achievement).

Slither is a blast.  Pure and simple.

The Reverend (2012)

The Reverend is a movie made with the intention of stealing my heart it would seem.  To start with, it stars the incredibly hot Emily Booth, who's boobs and horror presenting have graced my screen regularly for years, as well as her roles in some trashy B movie gems like Evil Aliens.  Then there's cameos from Rutger Hauer, who let's face it, is a living GOD to a helluva lot of genre fans, myself included.  There's even a couple of small cameo appearances from horror icon Pinhead, although he goes as his Christian self here.  He might not be rockin' the pins this time, but it's always great to see Doug Bradley (it's just a shame he doesn't get that many major roles as he's a talented actor).  Also in for the ride is Tamer Hassan, a dude I've been a fan of for years.  He's one of the kings of modern day British 'geezer' cinema, and often portrays thugs and hooligans in his flicks, but I really love his work (especially Football Factory).  Tamer is an underrated actor who's unfairly dismissed because of the way he gets typecast, but he's one of the best villains in modern British cinema.  Watching his films you wouldn't think that in real life he's actually an easygoing bubbly character.  Along with Stuart Brennan, he steals the show here.

Stuart Brennan stars as The Reverend, a young man of the cloth, fresh from seminary school, he is assigned to his first parish in a small village in the country.  On the surface the village seems peaceful, but there's a dark criminal underbelly, all ran by Harold Hicks (Hassan).  One night, The Reverend is bitten by a vampire and he is turned into a bloodthirsty fiend himself.  However, instead of using his powers for evil, he uses them to do God's work and clean up the village... by preaching to the churchgoers or by feasting on the criminal muck.

The Reverend is based on a graphic novel of the same name and is unlike other vampire movies.  Here, The Reverend vampire is a good guy and it's the humans that are the evil.  In a way, The Reverend is like a superhero.  Furthermore, there's no vampire cliches like crosses and garlic, as The Reverend uses the cross as his ally.  The Reverend is also indebted to the Western.  It might be set in rural Britain, but it wears its spaghetti influence on its sleeve; The Reverend is the hero who enters the corrupt town and clears out the scum while a blues guitar soundtracks his mission.  Stuart Brennan is great as our unlikely action hero and steals the show.  Tamer Hassan is Tamer Hassan like we've seen him before, albeit with a quaint country dress code.  When you need an intimidating villain in a low budget British film though... Tamer is your man.  I'd love to see him get a chance on a bigger movie.  Emily Booth is both a pleasure and a disappointment; she's as beautiful as ever and her performance shows that she can act outside of splatstick, sleazeball trash.  It's a different role for her and it's nice to see her try something new and do a good job, but she plays a prostitute and doesn't show her marvelous assets.  Some boobage would have been awesome.  Rutger Hauer and Doug Bradley on the other hand are nice to see, but they're only small cameos.  Rutger is the main name being used to market this, so if you buy it for him then you might be let down as he's only in the prologue.

There is some gore here to satisfy your thirst for the red stuff, and there's some pretty cool fight scenes.  It does focus more on story over action though.  Many reviews are criticising this already.  To many this will be a turkey but it's not bad at all.  By no means is it great, but it's an enjoyable way to pass 2 hours.  The ambition perhaps outstretched the budget, but it's pretty decent considering it was shoestring.  

Overall, it's not perfect but it's worth checking out.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (2012)

It was the title that peaked my interest in this one.  I had heard absolutely nothing about it until the wonderful title screamed at me, ''LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT'' and slapped me in the face.  I had to check this out and I'm so happy I did.  It's perfect; funny, gruesome, original, Stephen McHattie, charming and so wonderfully independent and Canadian it just makes the heart warm.  It's actually a very sweet movie considering the dark content; cannibalism and murder is unacceptable in most societies, but in this film the cannibal isn't a bad guy at all.  He's actually very sweet and simple.  He doesn't know what he's doing.  The true villain is Lars, who is exploiting Eddie because his cannibalism inspires him to paint again and sell his works.  He might be taking advantage of poor Eddie, but Lars isn't a bad guy either.  This is better than you might expect.  It's not a fun, trashy comedy.  It's smart, funny, original and endearing.  This is a cult classic waiting to happen.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

Okay so imagine this...

David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Stanley Kubrick all have a little too much to drink one night and even get a little high.  Then they all decide to make a baby.  That baby might very well be Panos Cosmatos and his debut feature, Beyond the Black Rainbow.  It isn't a pretty baby, it isn't a fun baby and it doesn't mix well with others.  It probably has play dates with the little mutant from Eraserhead, and they sit around listening to droning synth music in the dark.  You know where I'm going with this?  I sure as hell don't, but basically what I'm saying is that Beyond the Black Rainbow is a long, slow, weird movie.  It's really artsy, probably pretentious to some and it will bore the Jesus out of the most religious of Christians.  Then there's us genre film geeks... We'll dig it.  I really enjoyed this one but if I went back and watched it again then I'd choose a night time setting.  I watched this on a sunny afternoon after a long day of talking on telephones with people wanting to book chocolate from me (my job is chocolate fountain hires for weddings and events if you're interested).  So, when you watch this, make sure it's dark outside, if you like getting high then get high and try to imagine you're in a bleak quasi-futuristic dystopia.  Or be like me, sitting sober on a sunny afternoon with a glass of lemonade and a cheese and ham toastie.  Either way, it's all good.

It is set in a futuristic 1983.  Held captive by Dr. Barry Nyle in the mysterious Arboria Institute, a young girl tries to escape.  However, the Dr. Byle isn't prepared to part ways with his most treasured creation just set.  As she tries to escape, she discovers the dark secrets of the mysterious prison.

As much as it does remind me of a love child of Lynch, Kubrick and Kronenberg, that's not a bad thing.  Panos Cosmatos has created a film reminiscent of the weird sci-fi of yesteryear.  Very bleak throughout, psychological and grim, Beyond the Rainbow isn't exactly an 'enjoyable' movie.  It isn't fun in the slightest, but if you're in the mood, then it hits the spot.  Visually, it's absolutely stunning and looks like something Kubrick would make if he was inside a realm created by David Lynch with Angelo Badalementi and John Carpenter controlling score duties.  A criticism I have is that sometimes it favors style and surrealism over character development, but I suppose this was done to add to the nightmarish feel.

Even though this sin't for everyone, I think fans of surreal cinema will love it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Devil's Rock (2011)

Like many horror fans, I love Nazi's.  Well, we don't love real Nazi's, but Nazi's in horror are awesome villains.  I mean, there's not many things in this world more evil than Nazi's, so their ideal for a genre that's meant to scare, shock and disturb.  They're also good for satire and comedy, and when Nazi's are made to look like idiots then that's just as good.  In recent years, Nazi's have been popular in our beloved genre; the Norwegians brought us Dead Snow, where the Nazi's returned from the dead to feed on some skiers.  Another one worth mentioning is Outpost, a very impressive low budget supernatural gem.  2012 has been great for Nazi's, with Iron Sky exposing what really happened after the war and giving us an insight into a grim future where Nazi's will return from the moon (you all think it's a movie... It's prophecy I tell you).  And who could forget the Asylum's Nazi's At The Centre of the Earth?  Once again, those rascals have given the world a timeless piece of art (for them it's actually quite good.  I love those guys).  If you want to see Hitler as a weird robot thing then look no further.  The Devil's Rock, despite a limited theatrical release did not enjoy such recognition and still remains relatively unknown, which is a shame because it's the type of movie you'd like to go to the cinemas and have an option of seeing.  In an era where horror churns out a lot of similar movies, it's great to see a film come along and use a little imagination.  We've seen the occult Nazi thing done before, but it's fresh to see again here.

Paul Campion's full length debut is about 2 soldiers who are sent to the channel islands on the eve of D Day to destroy German gun emplacements in order to distract Hitler's forces from Normandy, only to  discover a Nazi plot to unearth a demon to win the war.  It's not Hellboy though, but many compare it to The Keep.

The Devil's Rock takes 15 minutes to really get going to stick with it.  I wasn't really feeling it until then but when it got going I was hooked.  This is a smart horror movie and I recommend it if you like slow burning horror.  If you want a gorefest then you'll be let down I'm afraid,  It's very dialogue driven and slow paced at times, but the finale is bloody and overall it's a rewarding experience.  It's by no means perfect but I'll watch it again, as I did get a big kick out of it.  I can't wait to see what the director does next, but let's hope he continues to write outside of what's ''current'' and follow his imagination in future.  A lot of effort was put into The Devil's Rock and it is based on real myths.  That's worth watching it alone.

Dark Country (2009)

Thomas Jane once again proves just how underrated and overlooked he is because not only appears in front of the camera here, but he's also the driving force behind it.  This is an excellent low budget feature that shows that Jane has the potential to be a very good director and after watching this I pray he gets behind the camera, as well as in front of it again in future.  Dark Country is a nightmarish, beautifully shot and visually stunning film noir in the vein of The Twilight Zone and David Lynch.  It stars Tomas Jane as Dick and Lauren German as Gina, who are newlyweds on their way from Vegas travelling across the desert highway who are forced to deal with a body.  As the journey progresses twists and turns are aplenty, the mind is well and truly fucked with and it's all done with style.  I've read many views comparing this to David Lynch's Lost Highway and I can see why, but this is a solid feature in its own right.  This is an impressive effort from Thomas Jane and deserves more attention.  It's a mind boggling honeymoon from Hell.

Frontier(s) (2007)

Ahhhh.  The French.  It seems like only yesterday that the French were releasing excellent movie after excellent movie in the world of horror.  It took off big time in 2003 with Alexandre Aja's masterpiece High Tension (but there were others before like Irreversible that turned some heads and churned some stomachs), but since 2008 it hasn't been all of the buzz at all, but it has been influential to this day.  European horror the past couple of years has been making a name for itself, but not a lot has been French recently.  Maybe it's because most of the directors flocked to Hollywood and made some kick ass movies there.  I really love French horror though.  The 'New Wave of French Horror' wasn't unique in its concepts, but it was ultra-extreme in its execution of concepts, visually unique (dare I say even artsy?) and often had a political message or social commentary thrown in.  Frontier(s) is one of the best of a decent bunch of movies from the 'New Wave...'  As great as movies like Martyrs and Inside are... you can't watch them a lot.  Frontier(s) on the other hand is dare I say... fun.  Fucked up yes.  But demented fun.

Frontier(s) starts off as a crime movie following a group of criminals who have just stolen some money and need to escape a riotous Paris.  On their way to the border after they escape the city, the stop at an Inn.  Little do they know that the inn is run by neo-Nazi cannibals who aren't quite as hospitable as your every day bed and breakfast, but probably more so than a lot of Scotland's Premier Inn's.  When the violence starts, we're treated to gruesome torture porn and a demented family of Nazi's.  It's TCM-meets-a Fourth Reich.  The violence is gruesome and visceral and pretty constant, but it's an entertaining gorefest that fails to disturb because of the absurdity and silliness of it all.  The head of the family is quite comical because of how serious he acts.

I'm not criticising though, because it is a great movie.  I'm probably sick in the head for saying this isn't disturbing.  The content isn't for the faint of heart, but there's much worse out there and most horror fans should be able to take this with a pinch of salt.  It's basic torture porn made by a very talented filmmaker.  The political undertones of the movie are apparent, but presented with exaggeration.  The politics of the movie are left wing and the purpose is to highlight right wing politics at their most extreme.  I don't care about that stuff but I know some people do.  I just wanted to see a bunch of people get killed to be honest with you.

Not quite the masterpiece of Aja's High Tension, not as silly as Sheitan and nowhere nearly as disturbing as Inside.  I would place this near the top of the New Wave of French horror though and if you're a gorehound then you should check it out.  I enjoy it, but it is far from perfect. If it had that little something extra then it would be great.

Scarce (2008)

Scarce is the first movie from Foresight Features, co-written, co-directed and starring John Geddes (Exit Humanity) and Jesse T. Cook (Monster Brawl).  Made on a budget of $500,000, it's a splatty, snow-filled gem with a hunger for human flesh.  We've seen this formula before; 3 college guys get the wrong directions from some unfriendly rednecks and end up crashing in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard.  One of the guys breaks his leg as a result of the crash and his friends go looking for help.  Eventually they find a cabin and a welcoming host, but who'd have known their host is a cannibal and along with some other locals, is looking to stock up on meat for the season!  This isn't new ground; Deliverance, TCM, and Wrong Turn come to mind straight away.  However, this is a well made movie with lots of tension, creepy characters and gore.  It sticks to the formula but the execution is more than satisfying.  Throw in some boobs, a lesbian scene and some filthy, trigger happy, cannibal rednecks and you have all the ingredients for a kick ass little horror movie.  Recommended.

Exit Humanity (2011)

The zombie sub genre is the horror equivalent of an electronic music genre known as dubstep.  Just like dubstep, zombies have become so popular that everyone does it at some point.  Just like dubstep, zombies are easy to create.  Basically what I'm trying to say is, there's so much zombie movies out there that it feels overpopulated, the same way dubstep music is stale.  That doesn't mean to they aren't both enjoyable.  I enjoy a good generic zombie movie and I enjoy a good generic bass heavy dubstep track, but I don't go out my way to find either.  However, when something comes along that offers a fresh approach... even just the smallest of changes... then I'm interested.  Enter Exit Humanity, a period piece set in the Civil War period with the undead thrown into the mix.  Made by John Geddes (an exciting independent director along with frequent collaborator Jesse T. Cook, are churning out some ambitious low budget gems with their Foresight Features company), this is his debut solo effort (he co-directed a little gem of a cannibal movie with Cook called Scarce).  Forefront Features is starting to make a little name for itself in the world of indie horror.

Exit Humanity is the third effort from Forefront Features (following Scarce & Monster Brawl) and it goes into totally new territory than the previous productions.  What I love about this company is, that despite shoestring budgets, they like to be a little different.  By no means are they breaking any boundaries, but just a little change here and there can breathe new life into genres that have been done to death.  Take Exit Humanity, instead of going for the gore and scares, it favors a dramatic approach.  By setting it in the Civil War, throwing in some animation and keeping the zombies secondary, it really does stand out as fresh, especially since there's well over 700 zombie films the last time I checked.  Exit Humanity is a drama that focuses on character.  It's slow paced and low on action, but the story is interesting enough to keep it engaging.  It reminded of comparisons such as Dead Birds and Ravenous.

The movie is strong in many departments; the settings and scenery really capture the era that it is set in.  Even more impressive is the comic-book like animation sequences used to show flashbacks.  Those were my favorite scenes in the film.  The performances were all outstanding and featured cameos from Stephen McHattie, Dee Wallace and everyone's favorite Southerner, Bill Moseley.  The script is good, the story is engaging and the characters were strong.  Furthermore, the score is beautiful and really does a lot for the movie.  However, I think it could have benefited from a shorter duration, as a few scenes drag on a little more than they need to.

Overall, this is a good little low budget zombie movie that's worth checking out if you enjoy the zombie sub genre but want to see something new thrown into the mix.  It may be a little too long, but it's not boring.  Geddes is a director with a big future and Forefront Features is a company I support.  They haven't got it perfect yet, but I know they will when their budgets get bigger.  All of their movies so far have been made on shoestring budgets and when you take that into account, there films are pretty damn great.  They make the best of what they have and it pays off.  I can't applaud them enough and can't wait for their future releases.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Desert Island Films

Hey guys, over at my other blog, I took part in a feature where I chose 8 movies that I would take to a desert island.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do but it was a lot of fun.  I just thought I'd inform you all about it in case anyone wanted to take part, as I know Tyson is always looking for participants.  Here's the link for more information:

Also, if anyone is interested, a horror desert island movies list could be fun.  If anyone wants to email me a list of X amount of horror movies they'd take to a desert island, I'd publish it here and make it a feature instead of just my reviews and ramblings.  Let me know if you're interested, and also get in touch with Tyson if you're interested in his.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Dear God No (2012)

Any movie that contains one of the major 'B's' is good in my book, but a movie that contains all 4 of the major 'B's' is a sure fire hit.  The 4 major 'B's' are 'BIKERS,' 'BLOOD,' 'BOOBS' and the most important, 'BIGFOOT.'  In addition to that, there's strippers in Nixon masks, rude hand gestures, slaughtered nuns, bars that serve tampons, rape, killing, swearing, political incorrectness, beards, awful dialogue, terrible acting, Nazis, gore, crazy mad Scientists, beer, drug use, explosions, guns, psychedelia and to top it all off - litter.  That's right, the criminals in this movie even drop litter.  This nasty piece of Grindhouse, exploitation trash is not only bad for our sanity, but it's also bad for the environment.  This isn't one for the whole family to watch.  You really shouldn't watch this with anyone who's easily offended or has a weak heart or bladder.  There's no redeeming qualities, it's flat out nasty and the filmmakers are probably spawned from the bowels of Hell.  Enjoying this means you're an evil sicko.  Personally, I loved it.

Rites of Spring (2011)

I don't really know what my favorite genre of film is, but when I try to figure it out the end result is usually a toss up between horror and crime movies.  Along with comedy, that's probably what I spend most of my time watching.  This movie had all of the 3 (even though it's not a comedy, I'm sick and laughed at parts).  Rites of Spring doesn't break new ground or set new trends, but is what it is and its still a fun ride.  One could be forgiven for thinking it's a Jeepers Creepers ripoff because, you know, the plot looks like a Jeepers Creepers ripoff.  So what is the plot you ask?  I'll tell you.  On the first day of Spring in 1984 and every year since, 5 girls have gone missing and their bodies have never been recovered.  The Midwest setting also gives it a Creepers vibe, but aside from that this movie has its own thing going for it.  It's a slasher at heart with some crime thriller thrown in for good measure.  Like I said, nothing new but its execution of the tried and tested formula makes for an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

The film revolves around 2 plots; on one hand we have your basic creepy old man and monster in a barn terrorising 2 pretty females in preparation for some sort of sacrifice.  On the other hand, you have a kidnapping of a wealthy businessman's daughter by clumsy criminals who want to extort money from a man you shouldn't mess with.  The first half is like 2 different movies happening at the same time, but when it comes together, it works pretty nicely.

Rites of Spring deserves credit for trying to carve its own little niche.  Sure, it isn't new ground but it is ambitious.  It'smore interested in telling a story rather than just splats, jumps and giggles.  I wouldn't call this a throwback either, because it's not trying to homage anything.  It does what is necessary to get its point across.  Many reviews call this a ''throwback'' but when I hear that word I think Hatchet and Chromeskull.  Is there cliches?  You bet.  But come on?  What haven't we seen before?  And there's nothing wrong with it because the execution is good.

Gorehounds will be satisfied but it's not overly sqeamish.  If you have a weak stomach you'll survive this as it focuses more on story and the kills only happen when necessary, but when they do they're satisfying (ever think you're a little sick when you think horror movie kills are ''satisfying?'  Know that I only condone movie murder).  I read that the director wants to do a trilogy, and I think it has the potential to be great.  I really hope we get it.

Overall, it's nothing new but it is ambitious.  It's a good movie that a lot of horror fans will enjoy.  It does however have flaws.  For instance, there's hardly any back story, but if a trilogy does happen then hopefully more will be covered.  I'd still recommend giving it a watch though.

The Tall Man (2012)

When I first read that there was a movie coming out in 2012 called The Tall Man, I leaped from my seat in excitement thinking, ''FINALLY! A PHANTASM SEQUEL!''  Then I read more about it and found out that it wasn't a Phantasm sequel, but I wasn't disappointed because it had a very exciting premise, starred the hot and talented Jessica Biel and had a major supporting role for the always excellent Stephen McHattie.  Furthermore, I love horror movies set in small towns.  Actually, I love most things set in small towns.  I'm happy to admit that I'm a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan.  The Tall Man, with the exception of a hot lead female, has nothing in common with Gilmore Girls though.  Actually, it's like no other movie you'll see for awhile.  I loved it.

This is Pascal Laugier's follow up to Martyrs, and alas we see him break into Hollywood.  However, this is not as brutal as Martyrs, but it does deal with a disturbing concept that has become common in society - child abduction.  The story is set in the small, desolate town of Cold Rock, a town that is suffering not only from economic depression, but the children are going missing and the locals suspect it's a local legend known as, 'The Tall Man.'  Julia (Jessica Biel) is thrust into the mystery when her child is kidnapped in the middle of the night, but all is not as it seems and to say anymore would spoil this movie.  As much as I'd like to talk about all the twists and turns, I really can't.  You need to see this.  Hollywood hasn't made anything this mind-bending and thought provoking for awhile.

Lots of reviews are saying that this is not a horror movie and it's more of a psychological thriller/mystery.  I disagree.  It's by no means an all out horror, and it is more so a thriller, but the concept of children being kidnapped is enough to make it stand as a horror movie.  Furthermore, the atmosphere is creepy throughout.  It's not purely horror, but I think it falls into the category.  Compared to Martyrs though it's tame.

Every single performance is excellent and convincing, from Jessica Biel in a career best performance, to the angry mobs of townsfolk.  There's not a character here who doesn't sell their role.  Laugier's direction is different from his other movies, but it proves that he's got diversity and has an exciting future.  The atmosphere throughout this movie is creepy and almost dreamlike.  The small town location is ideal, with it's grim look and surrounding forest.  The best thing though - the story.  This is truly a case of expect the unexpected and it keeps you guessing until the end.  The premise on paper looks interesting itself, but when you see the film and how it constantly evolves then it's so much better than you'd be led to believe.  At least for me anyway, many will dismiss this as being boring.  Others will herald it as a breath of fresh air.

Strongly recommended.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Triangle (2009)

My Christopher Smith mood hasn't passed yet... Next up is Triangle and to be honest, I don't even know how I'm going to review this.  I'm the type of fella who just types and publishes the first draft.  Everything you see is off the top of my head, so why the hell would I review a movie that goes over most peoples?  I'll do my best but bare in mind I probably won't do it any justice.  Quickly though, if you just want a simple reason to watch then heed my words: this is one mindfuck of a movie that needs to be seen.  This will glue your eyes to your television.  It's twist and turn and twist and turn and one hell of a mystery.  Plus, imagine The Shining and Groundhog Day going to sea, mating and producing a deformed child.... those vibes are in this movie.  This is a horror movie with brains and should be shown to everyone who dismisses horror as trash, mindless or unintelligent genre.  It's unlike any other horror movie I've seen and an ambitious effort from an exciting filmmaker.

The plot on paper is simple, but what you see on the screen isn't as straightforward; a group of friends on a yacht are desperate for help after a storm.  Suddenly, a ship appears and they see someone looking down at them from the deck.  When they get aboard the ship it's empty.  If I say anymore I may give away spoilers, just know what ensures is an unpredictable surreal nightmare and it's friggin' incredible.

The script took Christopher Smith 2 years to write and it really paid off for him.  At the end of his career, this will be the movie he'll probably look back on as his 'masterpiece.'  Or at least one of them, because let's face it, he'll make more.  Any writer who wrote this would be proud of their work though I'd imagine.  It's by no means my 'favorite' Smith movie, but it is the most rewarding to watch as it really challenges me each time I watch it.  Watching this, I gain more than simple enjoyment.  To be honest though, I don't know my favorite Smith movie.

This isn't purely a horror movie.  In fact, it's more mystery than it is horror.  There isn't much in the way of gore and jump scares.  Triangle is a constant evolving nightmare that doesn't let you go.  Visually, it's very dreamlike and surreal.  The cinematography is absolutely stunning.  Melissa George is the central character and practically needs to carry the story on her own.  Her performance should have won a damn Oscar if the Oscars could climb down off their pedastal and admit that horror movies are as much of an art form as any other genre.  It actually amazes me that modern horror movies do not get the artistic credibility they deserve outwith the community considering the imagination that is put into them, along with great writing, directing and performances.  Triangle is smarter than a lot of movies.  Melissa George's performance embodied her character and one flaw from her could have ruined this movie.  She was perfect though, and she made this movie excellent.

Triangle needs to be seen.  NEEDS!  This is a mystery that doesn't stop until the very end.  It keeps throwing you off guard and has you thinking 'WTF' when the end credits role.  So if you want a movie that challenges you then check this one out.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Black Death (2010)

Since his debut feature, Creep, in 2004, Christopher Smith has become an exciting name in the world of horror.  When it comes to a Christopher Smith movie you really don't know what to expect.  He's a director who likes to tell a story, and every film he does is like nothing he's ever done before.  Now 4 movies in, he's really proved himself to be a prolific filmmaker who is really passionate about all of his projects.  This shines through in his films and it makes them so much better.  In his 4 movies to date, he's done everything from make us laugh to completely fuck our minds, but when it comes to the horror elements then he really knows what he's doing.  Other than Creep, none of Smith's movies have been solely horror; Severance was a hilarious comedy that managed to maintain a constant unease and tension throughout before going horror on our asses.  Triangle on the other hand was one of the best mysteries I've ever seen and it had me questioning my sanity.  It was so damn trippy.  Black Death isn't a horror movie, but it does have strong horror elements.  What is lacks in horror though, it makes up for in other areas.

Black Death is set in 1348, a time of bubonic plague and religious superstition in England.  It follows a young monk and a group of soldiers who travel to a village that has been reported to be free of plague and not only that, but there are rumors that the dead are being brought back to life.  The young monk has to lead the soldiers to the village, and the duty of the soldiers is to sniff out a Necromancer, kill the residents and do God's work.  The quest to the village is dangerous, but the village might just prove to be their biggest challenge yet and many twists and turns take place, secrets are revealed and all that fun jazz.

Any movie that stars Sean Bean is going to get watched by some for that reason, but it's young Eddie Redmayne who shines as the young monk who believes in mercy.  However, his intentions have selfish motives that are perhaps too human for his comrades to understand.... Of course it's about a girl.  Sean Bean as Ulric is a merciless, hate driven warrior delivering God's message with his sword.  We've seen him play a similar role in Lord of the Rings, but when it comes to a hate driven medieval warrior then who's better than Sean Bean?  I can't remember the last time I watched a movie with him set in a century of technology.

Black Death is deliberately grim, but it is also entertaining and thought provoking.  Their journey is dark and dangerous, plague has devastated the lands and the people and the movie makes sure it captures this element.  However, that doesn't mean it's going to deprive us of a battle scene with the odd decapitation.  Once they reach the village, everything is peaceful and everyone is healthy.  Instead of celebrating it, they assume its magic and seek to capture the one responsible.  However, the villagers are aware of their intentions and everything becomes surreal.  It's also in the village that Smith has his Wicker Man and Herschell Gordon Lewis moments.

I really enjoyed this movie; it has elements of horror, thriller, mystery and man on adventure movies which really blended in a realistic fashion.  This movie wasn't fantastical in any way; it was gritty and realistic.  The movie was heavy on religious superstition and it was thought provoking as a result.  I can'r recommend this one enough.